Gellert, Christian Fürchtegott
b Hainichen, Saxony 1715, d Leipzig 1769. Raised in a rural Lutheran parsonage, he studied theology at Meissen and (from 1734) at Leipzig, and after graduation assisted his father in pastoral work. But not having a good memory or bold delivery he used to read his sermons; since that was not the custom in those churches at that time, he was compelled to resign and in 1738 took up private tuition. In 1741 he returned to Leipzig for both teaching and further study in the faculty of Belles Lettres. 10 years later he became Prof of Philosophy, also lecturing on poetry and rhetoric. Among his later pupils were the teenage Goethe and slightly older G E Lessing. A popular lecturer, he rarely enjoyed full health but won widespread affection for his faith and godliness, being reduced to near-poverty through his constant giving to others in need. He wrote Tales and Fables for a popular magazine; also comedies and Consolations for Valetudinarians. Inheriting a poetic gift from his father, he also published 3 vols of verse, including some hymns (in 1757) which for German-speakers became classics, and one which achieved this status through its English translation. He was known to pray particularly before starting to write. No.465.